The Apes Have Landed are;
Ape Number Half of One - Guitar, Communications, Medical, Janitor
Ape Number 7 - Bass, Shouting, Diplomat, Scout
Ape Number 22 - Drums, Vocals, Artillery, Pilot
Ape Number 99 - Guitar, Vocals, Spare Ape
It’s a tale with which many here in Taiwan are familiar. For locals, the dreaded army call-up has put an end, or at the very least stalled, many promising bands' creative momentum. And within the ex-pat community, it’s almost a guarantee that a band member will eventually leave to travel elsewhere, return home or move on with other life pursuits. For one Kaohsiung band, The Apes Have Landed, this has indeed been the case as their bass player has recently ventured off the island. Thankfully, the group spent some time in the studio to record an album, Chapter 1 (A Road To Somewhere), and have left us with a taste of their ape style rock until their next manifestation.
Comprising the old rhythm section of Owen Sound band, Clock Strikes Music, Squids drummer, and the guitars/vocals of The Electrocutioners, I would say their sound, while distinctly being its own thing, has elements of garage/surf rock, dub, blues, and post punk…in the vein of The Cramps, The Birthday Party, Swans, Jon Spencer, and The Melvins (though this is just my opinion of which they may disagree).
Chapter 1 is a bit of a concept album with sampled Apes-inspired dialogue interspersed between the energetic guitar rock in which these guys ply their trade. From the cranking A Slippage of Time to the epic dub-tinged Age of Insanity, there are great songs, solid bass lines, furious drumming, rocking guitar riffs and noises which all adds up to quite an enjoyable, cohesive album.
I sat down with Spare Ape and Half of One over a few banana brews and listened to what they had to say about the album and other primate matters.
Make of it what you will.
HoO: We crashed here in Taiwan. It was either this small island, or a much larger chunk of land nearby and we thought this island looks defensible. It’s a green and pleasant land.
SA: After the crash, there was little for us to do other than take these instruments and see what we could make with them. We had no idea of the impending doom or the war or anything. It was just us trying to get to know your culture. We thought we could get along with humans in the beginning seeing as we were able to communicate with them - but it didn't work out that way. Actually, we do have humans as friends now. One of them helped us make the record.
HoO: He's a good one…trustworthy. He was controlling electrical gadgets and we were just playing music.
SA: It seemed natural to tell our story of how we arrived here and obviously the war. And its almost, actually, a tribute to all those who have fallen - on both sides. Human as well as ape. That there were, many unnecessary casualties.
HoO: We would like humans to know that we bear man no ill will. He's just a victim of his own creation. If you think about it, we've understood that he came from the trees and a lot of what we perceived as being aggression is actually just a result of evolution. It’s those same qualities which would let them survive, which are now, potentially going to kill us all (leading to our destruction). So what else could we do but make the music. It’s the only one thing we, ape and human, could agree upon.
HoO: Well, 7 is on a reconnaissance mission to the other side of the planet. To the big C - The forbidden zone. Trying to assess whether or not it’s an ape friendly, habitable area.
SA: Like we say, 7’s out there, across the seas in a place called Canadia. And if there’s food, shelter, and places to play music then, I think we may all head to Canadia. They have a big red tree as their symbol.
HoO: It seems like a nice place, though I’m not sure if they have bananas there. They might import them from other strange places, part of some colonial experimentation where a small island in the middle of the planet controls vast continental chunks of land.
Where can we get the album?
HoO: Early on in our stay here we discovered what you humans call the Internet. And we figured that this is our only way to communicate. We have a website theapeshavelanded.com and you can go there, follow the trail, and that will lead you to the album.
Is it free?
HoO: No. Should it be free? Maybe.
SA: Why isn't it free?
HoO: Humans have this thing, this social construct that really controls them called currency. We are quite unfamiliar with that. As apes, it took a lot of thought and understanding to really get our heads around it.
SA: Does the music belong to us?
HoO: On this planet it does. Again, there is still so much we don't understand about this place.
SA: We're arguing about the next album right now, Chapter 2. Ape No.7 suddenly, after drinking lots of alcohol, decided he should have a more prominent songwriting role. But I doubt that this is going to be a very acceptable accommodation. I think that what we should do with the remaining Apes is write the whole damn thing quickly before he comes back around and call it a fait accompli.
HoO: You learned French while we were here?
SA: I went to France because I heard they had exotic music and dancing.
HoO: Did they?